BFF-01 Ex-Catalan leader demands regional govt be reinstated

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SPAIN-CATALONIA-POLITICS

Ex-Catalan leader demands regional govt be reinstated

MADRID, Dec 31, 2017 (BSS/AFP) – Ousted Catalan president Carles Puigdemont
on Saturday demanded Madrid reinstate his regional government, which was
deposed after an independence referendum that Spanish courts judged illegal,
as part of a political settlement.

“As president, I demand the Spanish government and those who support it…
restore all they have expropriated from the Catalans without their say-so,”
Puigdemont said from Brussels as he called on Madrid to “negotiate
politically.”

Puigdemont’s administration followed up the October 1 referendum by
declaring independence but Madrid promptly sacked him and his team and,
facing arrest, he fled into Belgian exile while colleagues were arrested and
jailed.

Puigdemont campaigned for the region’s December 21 snap election from his
Brussels exile after a Spanish court charged him with rebellion, sedition and
misuse of public funds.

But a solid showing by pro-independence parties in the poll strengthened
the hand of the secessionists, albeit they did not capture a majority of
votes cast.

In a seven-minute recorded message Puigdemont insisted he was still
Catalonia’s “legitimate” leader and that the electorate had shown themselves
to be “democratically mature, winning the right to constitute a republic of
free men and women.”

After the divisive regional elections, how the independence camp intends to
rule remains a mystery, with other secessionist leaders, including
Puigdemont’s former deputy Oriol Junqueras, behind bars pending trial.

“The ballot box has spoken,” said Puigdemont, who said he hoped the
election outcome could kickstart moves towards “dialogue and negotiation.”

“So what is (Prime Minister Mariano) Rajoy waiting for to accept the
results?” Any investiture of Puigdemont as regional leader for a new term
while he remains abroad would require a change in regional parliamentary
statutes.

Rajoy on Friday denounced as “absurd” any idea that Puigdemont could govern
from exile and Ines Arrimadas, regional head of the anti-independence
Cuidadanos party, agreed.

“Mr Puigdemont believes he can be president of the Generalitat (regional
executive) via internet and Whatsapp,” said Arrimadas.

BSS/AFP/MSY/0810 hrs